I plan to go there when I'm in Laos in August. Would you recommend bus travel at that time of the year? SS
An archaeological landscape covered with huge jars, the Plain of Jars is well worth a visit even though it is located in the country’s remote northeast. Most tourists travel there from Luang Prabang, then go on to Vang Vieng before returning to Vientiane. Several agents in Luang Prabang offer trips to the Plain of Jars, which is located near Phonsavahn town, the capital of Xiang Khouang province.
Buses also depart from the town’s main bus station for the 10-hour trip, which takes passengers on a winding route round up and down hills. In fact, the distance is only 200 kilometres but the bus can only cover about 25 kilometres an hour. It usually leaves at 8pm and a ticket costs Bt340 for the VIP bus, and Bt290 for an ordinary bus.
As August is right in the middle of the rainy season, you may want to consider flying to Phonsavahn from Vientiane or Luang Prabang. Lao Airlines offers some reasonable deals to Phonsavahn, which include accommodation. It is only a 25-minute flight.
Once you are in Phonsavahn town, you will learn there are seven jar sites, which have been cleared of unexploded bombs and are open to visitors. They are sites 1, 2, 3 and 16 near the old capital Xieng Khouang, site 23, near the big hot spring in Muang Kham, site 25 in the largely unvisited Muang Phukoot district and site 52, the largest known jar site to date with 392 jars, which is near a traditional Hmong village and only accessible on foot. The most visited site is known as Thung Hai Hin as it's the biggest and the most accessible. It’s 15 kilometres southwest of Phonsavahn.
It is possible to get to site 3 by taking a bus from the main bus station. It operates only once a day. The bus trip takes 30 minutes and costs about Bt30.
I am used to cycling in the city, and will be in Thailand soon. I want to experience cycling in and around Bangkok for a few days but will not be aiming to go far out of town. Is there anywhere in Bangkok I can rent a decent bike, and where I can go cycling for a day or two in the outskirts and see the countryside? Thanks a lot. Simon
There are a few places in Bangkok that you can go cycling and stay safe from car traffic. One of them places is Suan Rod Fai or the Railway Park near Chatuchak market. Here people come to rent a bike and cycle around the loop. Bikes for rent here are all very basic though there are a few mountain bikes with gears.
A good way of experiencing Bangkok by bike is to join a bike tour. There are many of them in Bangkok and they offer trips that range from one-day cycling in the city to Ayutthaya Historical Park, Koh Kred and the Floating Market. Distances vary from 25 to 40 kilometres a day depending on your level. Companies that offer these tours are SpiceRoads, Grasshopper Adventures. Absolute Explorer and Follow Me Bicycle Tour.
They also have bike rental services. One of the best rental places is Velo Thailand. The cost is Bt300 a day, and Bt1,800 a week. It’s on Samsen Soi 4 not far from Khao San Road.
Bangkok suffers from very heavy traffic congestion and even if you are used to city cycling, it’s wise to join a tour first to explore the back roads. While you won’t see many cyclists, they do exist, with a few people cycling to work and bike days organised on the major streets on Sundays. Enjoy your trip.